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Aster's avatar

Why can't true hoarders do something as simple as this?

Asked by Aster (20002points) June 6th, 2012

I’ve watched the show Hoarders but stopped since it was too depressing or something. But I’ve wondered why don’t they simply buy a bag of trash bags or leaf bags and throw away food-based garbage? I don’t mean knick knacks, photos, toys or books since I know they mean a lot to them but what about empty food cans, trash bags from the grocery store, molded bread and take out containers? Why do they let those stay on the floors? I want to add that I am no neat freak at all to say the least.

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11 Answers

ccrow's avatar

I think when the mess is at that kind of level, it becomes overwhelming… they don’t have any idea where to start, so they just don’t. Remember that true hoarding, as opposed to being a messy housekeeper, is considered a mental illness, and as such it isn’t so simple as just getting out a trash bag and starting to throw away food wrappers.

lillycoyote's avatar

Compulsive hoarding is a psychiatric disorder. It’s not that simple for them. Compulsive hoarders think differently than people who aren’t hoarders. Their brains actually work differently than non-hoarders’ brains.

6rant6's avatar

For most of these people, hoarding results from the loss of someone or something dear to them. Imagine the worst loss you personally have ever felt. If you’re an average person, then someone who is not average may experience a greater __sense__ of loss. Now imagine that every time you got rid of something that loss was recalled, refreshed in your memory.

Even __considering__ throwing things away is debilitating to people with this disease. In order to function, they accept that they won’t throw anything out.

Aster's avatar

@6rant6 I can understand not throwing out anything that recalls a loss like something a person had owned or played with but this isn’t relevant to old pizza boxes with bits of sausage on the bottom or empty soup cans. Of course, I can imagine a huge personal loss stopping you from doing anything whatsoever except laying in bed. Horrible.

6rant6's avatar

@Aster Have you never known someone who was mentally ill, even just morbidly depressed? Even those of us who are “healthy” often find it difficult to to do the things we would agree are good for us – put down the remote and go for a walk, buy the fresh spinach and leave the ice cream, avoid discussions which upset us. People whose brain chemistry is screwed up have the strongest urges to do the wrong things – in this case to hoard. It’s not a character flaw, or laziness, or lack of clarity. It’s illness.

CWOTUS's avatar

As others have said, “It’s not that simple.”

Hoarders don’t fix some of these (to us) obvious problems for essentially the same reason that depressed people can’t just “snap out of it and cheer up!”

Lightlyseared's avatar

That’s like asking why can’t depressed people just smile a bit more?

Kardamom's avatar

My Aunt is a depressed hoarder. Simply getting up out of bed is almost impossible for her. It is simply too overwhelming for these poor folks to walk through the piles of junk and rubbish to get to a trash bag inside a cupboard (or even go to the store to buy the trash bags) or to put stuff into a trash bag even if someone gives it to them. It’s also cyclical in the fact that when a depressed person, who is also a hoarder is faced with cleaning up anything, they get horrible feelings of shame and an overwhelming sense that the more they dig in, the more things they will discover that will make them feel sad and more ashamed. It’s easier to just drop the stuff on the floor, even though they hate themselves and feel disgusted for doing it.

I think it’s kind of like a similar mind-set to people who have anorexia nervosa. Even though logically they know what they are doing is harmful, simply doing the opposite of starving themselves to attain perfection, is un-thinkable to them.

It’s a horrible sad cyle.

Aster's avatar

^^^^^^^^^ excellent, @Kardamom . I get it now ; thanks for being nice.

Coloma's avatar

OMG…it is so sad. I have watched those shows where these people are living in chaos. Yes, it is a form of mental illness and obsessive compulsive disorders. At least hoarding stuff is better than hoarding animals. THAT really just blows me away how some people can live knee deep in cat and dog shit. Gah!

ccrow's avatar

To say nothing of the poor critters, who don’t have a choice.

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